Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) is an American physicist.

He won the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics, together with Arno Allan Penzias, for their 1964 accidental discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation or CMB (the prize for that year was also shared by Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa for unrelated work). While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important confirmation of the Big Bang theory.


Wilson studied as an undergraduate at Rice University, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society. His graduate work was done at California Institute of Technology.

Wilson and Penzias won the Henry Draper Medal in 1977.


See also

Nobel Prize Physics 2006

John C. Mather, George F. Smoot

"for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation"

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